Every small business has a sign out in front of their building, it’s how people know where they are. Most people assume that this is enough for customers to remember who they are and where they are located. The facts don’t really play out that way. If you were to focus on a particular side of the street during your next drive to work, I bet you’d see a number of businesses that you’ve never noticed before. Imagine driving to work every day for years and never even noticing a particular business. The sad reality is that this occurs every day. I can recall commenting to my wife about a new business that I noticed on my way to work one day, and her telling me the business had been there for over a year.
Branding is something the big corporations have down to a tee. It could be the Nike swoosh, or the Golden Arches, when you see these symbols, you know immediately who they are. This is accomplished through repetitiveness. You are bombarded by these symbols in magazines, TV, billboards, flyers etc. The idea is to surround you with their product. So, when you are hungry, thirsty or in need of sporting goods, you always think of these brands first. This is a tried and true process, one that is difficult for small businesses to duplicate. This is due to the limited resources and funds available to us with which to market our business.
It starts with the name of your business and your logo. Make sure your logo tells your story, who you are and what you do. Make sure your sign is as big as legally allowed and is legible to people driving by. It’s amazing to me, how many signs I see that aren’t readable. It’s key to keep your sign fresh, trim bushes that grow up around it, and replace it when necessary. Your sign is your calling card to any passerby. It doesn’t end here. You need your name multiple times throughout your business. Above your door, on the rug leading into your business, on your take-out bags, cocktail napkins, all over your wall of fame in articles and on plaques. In pictures of your restaurant, make sure the sign is included in the picture.
We can’t compete with the big Chains when it comes to branding, we don’t have the money behind us or the budgets. This is not an excuse to ignore our brand or to work on building it. The difference is, it will take more time for small businesses to get their name out and have people identify their logo on a drive by. With the use of the internet, it’s a level playing field. We have the ability to have a great website with our name plastered all over it. We can use Constant Contact and have our logo in all of our business correspondence. Facebook allows us to connect to the world and showcase our brand and who we are. It’s about strategically getting your name out, it starts in your business and moves outward from there. The key is to keep building on your progress, hand out business cards every day, sell logo wear for your business, utilize give-aways with your name on it. Private label your famous sauce or marinade. Get your name in people’s homes and watch your brand become a household name.
Finally, don’t forget the media, they love local “feel good” news. Send out press releases and entice the media to use your business whenever they need a last minute story. It’s amazing how some things that you think are nothing are some one else’s news. You don’t need a big budget to get your name out there, you just need a little ingenuity and a plan. Execute your plan and make it happen.

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